Panoramic Photographer of the year 2015

The winner of the Kolor Panobook Panoramic Photographer of the year has been announced. LPM showcases the winning image and an interview with the winner Scott Dimond from Canada

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
panoramic-photographer-of-the-year-2015-scott-dimondI am Canadian and live in Calgary, Alberta with my wife and our three sons. Calgary is in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies to the west and it was the beauty of this area, including Banff National Park, which drew me to landscape photography. I have been photographing using a DSLR since 2003 and created my first panoramic image in 2006. Lately I have turned my attention and lens more and more to the east, away from the mountains and have been exploring the vastness of the Canadian prairies and the abandoned homesteads left behind by early pioneers.

What does this victory mean to you?
I’m excited and humbled to receive this honour. It validates that the extra effort needed to create panoramic images is worthwhile. The quality and creativeness of all the 2015 Panobook entries is so high, I congratulate them all and I’m thrilled to have my image selected from the 2818 submissions. Thank you to the judges for their selection of my image.

What was your motivation to take part in the Panobook 2015 contest?
This year was my first introduction to the Panobook. I was very excited to see a contest that focused purely on panoramic images. Additionally, the book that is produced each year that features some of the world’s best panoramic images is a wonderful idea. This is a great outlet for panoramic photographers to showcase their work.

What drew you to panoramic photography rather than other photography styles?
There is something very special about a wide view print that appeals to me and I very much like the reaction from viewers upon seeing large panoramic prints. I also like the additional technical and artistic challenges that are present in creating panoramic images. My work is not purely panoramic images but I like to think that I can tell when a panoramic image serves the scene best.

Could you share some of your own memories or details about the moment you shot “Dinosaur rock”?
This is a very special image to me because it was the successful culmination of very careful planning to put myself in the right place at the right time and hope for good light. I wanted to be at Hvítserkur (Dinosaur rock) in Iceland for a sunset and sunrise but most importantly, I wanted to be there around low tide. By consulting The Photographer’s Ephemeris and tidal charts before I left Canada, I knew that during the days of my second Iceland visit (10 days in June) there was only one morning where low tide coincided with sunset and I was determined to be there (in this case, sunset 00:01, low tide 01:42, sunrise 02:43). As you can see, this combination left just enough retreating water for nice reflections, exposed the base of Hvítserkur and allowed me to walk far out to get the composition I wanted. It was a magical time and I remained shooting until well after sunrise – about 5 hours of great light from start to finish.

What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Could you explain your workflow?

I often create panoramic images at sunset/sunrise which can result in a very large dynamic range, dark shadows and bright highlights. As such, some amount of High Dynamic Range processing is necessary. I prefer to stitch the individual bracketed frames into multiple panoramic images first. To do this, after exporting RAW images from Lightroom, I use a feature of PTGui that creates identically stitched images from a series of overlapping bracketed shots. Once I have the bracketed panos assembled (each at a different EV), I usually use Oloneo’s PhotoEngine to combine the multiple panos of different exposures into one image. Further adjustments are then made in Photoshop.

Whose work has influenced you most?
I can’t not say that there is any one panoramic photographer that has influenced my work. There are so many photographers doing fine work these days. Back when I first started taking landscape photography seriously, Darwin Wiggett and his work in the Canadian Rockies was a huge influence on me. His rich images featuring early and late daylight still resonate with me.

Do you think that there are any particular skills required to photograph panoramas?
Well, there are certainly the technical skills which need to be finely tuned. When there are near subjects in the frame, the proper understanding and use of tools to position the lens at the ‘No Parallax Point’ is one example. Multi-row panos also take additional technical skills. I use Tilt-Shift lens for all my panoramic images to maximize image sharpness and that can further complicate things. And when creating large panos in fast changing light, the ability to work quickly is a real necessity. But equally important are artistic skills. Being able to pre-visualize a large panoramic scene is key to walking away with a good composition.

How do you educate yourself to take better panoramas?
Once I have a workflow that works, I don’t alter it very often. I keep my eyes and ears open to new developments but I don’t change what is working just for the sake of change. I continually experiment with my existing equipment to see how far I can push it. I have recently seen some fantastic aerial panoramic images that were taken with drones and have done some reading on the subject but it is not something I have pursued yet. I’m not sure how I feel about a $4,000 DSLR hovering hundreds of feet above the ground (or water) even if my insurance covers it. For now, I’ll stick to a tripod on the ground but it certainly looks like these types of images will add even more excitement to panoramic photography.

Are you currently working on any interesting projects or upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us
I currently have a gallery exhibition called ‘Desolation’ which features a collection of my rural and urban prints. The show is running at Resolve Photo Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Additionally, I will have eight images, including large panoramic prints, included in the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase running from 3 to 12 of July 2015.

Can we rely on you for the Panobook 2016 contest?

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